5 BAYWATCH NIGHTS (syndicated) All-powerful producer and bathing-suit wearer David Hasselhoff has turned Nights into X-Files with Plan 9 From Outer Space F/X.
In thieving attitude and atmosphere from The Larry Sanders Show, Arli$$ renders its unfunniness not merely sad but infuriating. RHODES (NBC) Even if this show about a hep-cat teacher didn’t star the charmless, barber-deprived Tom Rhodes, its ceaseless procession of ignorant yet cool students makes the show’s ”education is good” message merely depressing.
3 DARK SKIES (NBC) The second-worst copycat, this time an insufferably pretentious X-Files variation.
But Matt Le Blanc’s Joey and Courteney Cox’s Monica have flourished anew, while Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel and Matthew Perry’s Chandler are steadily becoming comic creations of remarkable intricacy. Look at this show with an open mind and try not being beguiled.
7 MURDER ONE (ABC) By the end of last season, Daniel Benzali had become known in my house as ”the boring bald guy.” But that debut run of One also pulled off the show’s then-central conceit — keeping you engaged in a single trial over 21 episodes.
I’m thinking not only of the racism embedded in the soul of Andy Sipowicz (the earthshakingly good Dennis Franz) but of the increasing complexity of Bobby Simone (Jimmy Smits).
Whether Bobby was cruelly slapping around that squirrelly little creep Henry (Willie Garson), or finding himself unable to resist the little-boy selfishness that’s been mucking up his relationship with Diane (Kim Delaney), Smits somehow managed to make every flicker in Bobby’s mind register on his stoic face.
David Duchovny’s Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson’s Dana Scully now give off a united glow that says to the world, ”We’re right, you’re wrong, back off.” There’s no denying that The X-Files is more uneven these days (that episode where Mulder was remembering past lives was more heartburn commercial than X-File), but this is one series in which such erratic-ness is less a sign of creative exhaustion than of an admirably heedless faith in flaky flukiness.
3 THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW (HBO) Garry Shandling is TV’s purest artist, quietly yet aggressively laboring over an unmatched portrait of show-business egotism.
10 MOESHA (UPN) There’s no current sitcom star with ebullience equal to Brandy Norwood’s; as Moesha, she’s prime time’s most engaging teenager.
Beyond that, Moesha is a consistent pleasure, with punchlines that deploy hip-hop cadences with a cleverness beyond mere laugh making.
So few viewers are watching that this vote is probably for a lost cause: big mistake, America.